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My parents and grandparents used to say something like "Pippi Agire" which supposedly meant "Hurry up." I cannot find a reference to it anywhere. Does the word (or such combination of words) exist? Or is it made up? Thank you.

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    Welcome to Italian.SE, @Phil! – Charo Jun 11 '15 at 4:36
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    Doesn't ring any bells with me. It may help if you tell us where your grandparents were from. – Walter Tross Jun 11 '15 at 6:31
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    Might it be Per piacere, which literally is “Please”, but possibly used as an invitation to do something? – DaG Jun 11 '15 at 7:58
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    I agree with @DaG: it's “per piacere” in a Southern accent. – egreg Jun 12 '15 at 9:45
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    You can find the expression "pi piaciri" in a lot of books by Andrea Camilleri which corresponds to "per piacere" in standard Italian, that is, "please". See it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_siciliana. – Charo Jun 12 '15 at 11:47
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It's quite likely to be a local pronunciation of per piacere, which literally means “please”, but may be used to exhort one to do something.

As Charo remarks, the not-too-different Sicilian version pi piaciri is often found in Andrea Camilleri's books.

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    Thank you DaG I agree this seems to be it. it certainly sounds like it. Thank you all for your help. – Phil Jun 12 '15 at 14:36
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I can make some guess:

  1. Pippi is the nick from your name (your name is probably Philippe - - > Filippo in Italian - - > "Pippo" is the nick for Filippo)
  2. "Agire" means "act"... if you didn't speak Italian at that time, it could be they were using an Italian term (I. e." agire") that in their opinion you would understand

they were basically saying "Phil, hurry up".

I'm not really sure about "agire". It sounds like a dialect term I can't really get the meaning of. However I'm pretty sure that it's general meaning was "hurry up" or "let's go".

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    I've never heard Agire! used this way, but it's common to hear Muoversi!, also Marsch! (read marsh) can be used this way. – Formagella Jun 11 '15 at 21:24
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    According to @DaG's excellent hypothesis that would be "OK kids, let's go - please!" – Walter Tross Jun 12 '15 at 11:00
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    Thank you Walter, I must agree with @DaG also. that seems to be the closest, and when I repeat it, it sounds pretty much like what they were saying to us. Thank you all for your help. – Phil Jun 12 '15 at 11:23
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    You can find the expression "pi piaciri" in a lot of books by Andrea Camilleri which corresponds to "per piacere" in standard Italian, that is, "please". See it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_siciliana. – Charo Jun 12 '15 at 11:48
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    Guys great! In the end we have the answer! – Daniele B Jun 12 '15 at 15:09

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